Keeping with the gritty realism present in most of today’s cinema, Cary Fukunaga saves the tale of Jane Eyre from a soppy romantic depiction, and throws it headlong into the darkness. The story is a simple one, and follows the life of Jane Eyre, an intelligent, plain and chronically mistreated governess who lands a job in the house of rich Mr. Rochester. These two seemingly polar opposites eventually form a budding romance which is overshadowed by a tragic mystery that haunts the halls. Fukunaga proves a capable director, setting the dark tone for the film, focusing on Jane’s inner strength and refusal to break over the many hardships she has endured throughout her life. Although this is one of many interpretations, the newest version of Jane Eyre feels fresh and brings a new liveliness to Charlotte Bronte’s well known tale. Given the amount of source material screenwriter Moira Buffini has to work with she is able to produce a fantastic script that tracks the action of this film mainly through flashbacks. Key moments in Jane’s life are highlighted to better understand her character but are not dwelled upon, leaving more time to focus on her interactions with characters such as Mr. Rochester and St. John. The pacing of the film is well measured, and audiences are provided with an engaging story and beautiful portrayals of Bronte’s timeless characters. Although Fukunaga and Buffini’s Jane (Mia Wasikowska) and Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender) prove to be far more attractive versions than their literary counterparts, both actors nail the soul of their characters with a studied precision. Fassbender infuses his Rochester with appropriate amounts of brewing tragedy and eccentric charm. Even smaller roles are handled expertly. Judy Dench, a familiar face in many period dramas, makes a companionable Mrs. Fairfax. Jamie Bell, though perhaps not my first choice for St. John Rivers, makes this unbending character likeable. Buffini and Fukunaga focus the story less on St. John’s determined self-sacrifice and more on his role as a foil to Rochester and possible harbinger of doom to Jane’s way of life. However, the real gem of the film is Wasikowska who brings Bronte’s heroine to life, creating an intelligent, bold and strong willed woman able to face the restrictions imposed on her class and gender in 19th century life. It’s safe to say that this is one of the best adaptations I have ever seen on film, and for that reason I believe everyone should see it, as it would be criminal to ignore a story and performances of this calibre.
Monthly Archives: May 2011